The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

“ I love you crookedly because my heart’s been unhinged from birth. The doctors gave me strict instructions not to fall in love: my fragile clockwork heart would never survive. But when you gave me a dose of love so powerful – far beyond my wildest dreams – that I felt able to confront anything for you, I decided to put my life in your hands.” 
― Mathias Malzieu, La Mécanique du cœur

‘The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart’, a metaphorical, sweet, and disturbing little book translated into English from French, is a Tim Burtonesque fable of the rarest kind. I purchased the book at the well-known historical bookshop Shakespeare and Co in Paris. Attracted by Benjamin Lacombe’s art on the cover (check some of it out here) I couldn’t not give it a go, and boy am I happy that I did!

Our story begins on a cold dark wintry night (of course it does), when an unkown woman gives birth to a very pale baby, delivered by ‘Dr Madeline’ also known as ‘the witch’ in a gothic house set on top of King Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Because yes, this dark gothic tale is set in 19th century Scotland (and we even bump into Jack the Ripper at one point)! The baby is sickly, his heart is weak, and our steampunkish doctor decides to link the hardly-beating heart with a cuckoo-clock set right into the boy’s chest.

Three rules must always be kept:
1. Never touch the hands of the heart-clock
2. Keep your temper under control
3 Whatever else you do, never ever fall in love

Needless to say that during the course of his life, Jack breaks all three rules.

By the way, did I mention there is also an animated version of the book? And it is AMAZING. Yes, this is what happens when the author, Mathias Malzieu, is the leading singer of a French rock band – Dionysus. They created the music for the animated movie themselves of course. You can find some clips on Youtube (both in the original French version and translated to English). 

Oh yes, this book was a real discovery. Thank you Paris. Thank you Shakespeare and Co. Thank you Benjamin Lacombe. And most of all thank you so much Mathias Malzieu!

P.S If you loved Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s ‘The Little Prince’, this book is right up your street.

Personal rating – 5 on 5 Stars!

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Halloween Movies perfect for Kids!

Halloween also called All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain, this Autumn festival historically marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of Wintertime. Celtic and Gaelic traditions saw huge bonfires lit, as well as celebrations to mark the occasion. This is where the practice of dressing up comes from, since costumes were supposed to keep the cold, dark, evil spirits at bay by confusing them. It was the last festivity before the onset of the coldest months.

Today, we’re fortunate enough to live in a time where electricity, air-conditioners, heaters, and a marked jump in health institutions are enough to keep most of the cold chilly darkness under control. Nonetheless, we still celebrate Halloween. Apart from the usual parties, costume competitions, pumpkin fairs and trick-or-treating, many also take the opportunity to watch some good old horror movies to get into the mood.

Here are a number of some old favourite movies which I always make a point to watch during this time. These are not films of the slasher-horror type, but rather those which I associate with childhood, and which always leave me feeling of good cheer. Definitely ‘must-sees’ for all those with children and for those who can’t handle scary flicks!

The Tim Burton QuartetThe Nightmare before Christmas(1993), Corpse Bride (2005), Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tim Burton’s work is just perfect to watch cuddled on the sofa while a heavy rain lashes against the windowpanes. These dark fantasy movies are all, somehow or other, centred around Halloween. The first two mentioned are animated, full of catchy tunes and delightful characters. In fact, the ghouls, ghosts, skeletons and monsters aren’t scary at all. Although all of these movies are targeted at children, they also have dark sinister meanings which only adults will be able to appreciate, and which have nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with the society we live in; a society which can be cruel and intolerant, and end up pressuring people into doing what is acceptable instead of being happy with their own individuality.

Hocus Pocus (1993) – I must admit, the Sanderson sisters have always been my favorite media witches. Especially Bettie Middler, who’s somehow perfect in her rendition of an angry yet funny medieval witch, who after being burnt at the stake, comes back to the present to take her revenge. Unfortunately, she and her sisters are totally unprepared for today’s world, not to mention today’s children, who are much pluckier and smarter than the ones she was used to.

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The Addams Family (1991) – The stories of this eccentric, affectionate clan who don’t care what others might think about them have always been close to my heart, and the 1991 rendition with Angelica Houston as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday is just perfect in complementing Halloween. The Addams seem to live in a perennial Halloween all year round. Their neighbors think them strange, and society tries to shun them. And yet, they love and care for each other, especially when it matters the most.

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To read the rest of the article, which was published on EVE magazine follow the direct link:- http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/10/26/halloween-movies-for-the-faint-hearted/

Breaking the Office with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It was another irritatingly stifling day at the office. Issues kept being thrown at me one after the other, until I felt like I was on the brink of exploding. My bitchy (not to mention wanna-be poshy but actually totally chav) room-mate (I refuse to use the work collegue, since she comes in late, leaves early, and hardly actually DOES anything) was her usual hypocritical self, and I didn’t even have anything to eat during lunch time.

So, I grabbed my copy of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ and headed off to some alone-time in the sun during my 15-minute long office break. There was actually hardly any sun at all. It was one of those strange days when the air is chilly, the sky is in semi-darkness, and the sunshine keeps playing peek-a-boo with the romantically-fantastic clouds.

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I had read ‘Miss Peregrine…’ before, however since I’ve just bought its sequel ‘Hollow City’, I’ve decided to re-read it before moving on to it.

I must say that the presentation of the novel itself must have attracted quite a number of readers. I know that it attracted me. I don’t usually go for books with pictures in them, but the black and white daguerreotypes really caught my attention. Perhaps that was the main reason why out of a myriad of other interesting-sounding books, I actually bought this one.

That being said, the plot is quite original and interesting, giving a take on WW2 from a supernatural angle. Not that it goes into much detail about the war itself (thank all the Gods), however it IS portrayed to the extent as to how it touches the lives of many of the characters involved.

The characters are believable, though not particularly deep, and the baddies are… well… baddies. They could have been more fully-fledged and the ‘monster’ part seemed a bit childish to be honest, however later on in the book we are given an explanation about that, and I hope that this will be more in detail in the second book.

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I read this book months before it was announced that Tim Burton was to make a movie out of it – and you can imagine my euphoria. It’s just PERFECT for his style. Hope he makes it more ‘creepy’ and less ‘children’s movie’.

We have a long wait though, since production is to start in mid-2015, and MAYBE the film will be out by 2016.

The only sure thing is that they have cast Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, and while I had imagined her as being older, I really think she’s PERFECT for the part!!

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